Russia tried its best to keep the Americans and Iranians apart. Offers to sell Iran advanced air defense systems were designed to poke holes in U.S. threats to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. Teams of Russian nuclear experts whetted Iran’s appetite for civilian nuclear power with offers to build additional power reactors. Russian banks did their part to help Iran circumvent financial sanctions. The Russian plan all along was not to help Iran get the bomb, but to use its leverage with a thorny player in the Middle East to get the United States into a negotiation on issues vital to Russia’s national security interests. So, if Washington wanted to resolve its Iran problem, it would have to pull back on issues like ballistic missile defense in Central Europe, which Moscow saw early on as the first of several U.S. steps to encircle Russia.